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Understand strength and conditioning technology

This is an excerpt from Bigger Faster Stronger 3rd Edition by Greg Shepard & Kim Goss.

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. If you can't manage it, you can't accomplish it. This is a motto BFS has employed right from the start, because we know that a key method of ensuring continual results is to have a goal every time you train. The BFS program, with its traditional logbooks, is effective as is, but new developments in technology enable coaches to administer the program even more efficiently.

With ever-expanding technology, workout programs such as BFS can now be programmed into cell phones and tablets.
With ever-expanding technology, workout programs such as BFS can now be programmed into cell phones and tablets.

The BFS Set - Rep Logbook is a great workout tool that enables athletes to measure their progress accurately so they can set specific goals for their next workout. When used properly, the system is a perfect way to produce highly motivated athletes who strive for personal bests every training session. However, a manual system is time consuming, especially if a coach wants to closely monitor all his or her athletes' progress - or, for that matter, the overall progress of a team. For these reasons, coaches should consider using a computer program to make their program more efficient.

Using a program such as Excel, it's certainly possible for a coach to develop a record-keeping system for athletes. BFS took this a step further by developing a computer-aided system that not only records workouts, but automatically prescribes future workouts. The innovative software brought an additional and unexpected benefit by motivating athletes to exceedthe computer's expectations. This unique feature inspired Richard Knowley, director of computer programming at BFS, to call the program Beat the Computer.

The Beat the Computer program was a hit, freeing coaches from painstaking administrative work. Then BFS decided to take the program to the next level with individual and team reports, so that coaches and athletes could compare an athlete not only to current team members but also to the all-time leaders on the team and to BFS national standards. The result was Knowley's Athletic Achievement Software,which was eventually combined with Beat the Computer and called Beat the Computer Pro.

The first goal of this latest software was to produce individual progress reports on all the major exercises and field tests in the BFS program. Each report is divided into three categories: Ironman Ranking, Power Ranking, and Recommendations.

The Ironman data shows the athlete's performance in the core lifts, while the Power Ranking compares the field tests. The ranking, based on a score of 1 to 10, divides the results into a point value based on national standards, school grade level, and the ranking in the school. Finally, the report contains a computerized assessment area that provides recommendations based upon the athlete's results, such as paying more attention to diet or flexibility.

The next goal of the program is to show athletes how they compare to current and past members in individual results. Athletes can choose to print a report that takes any of the benchmarks from the individual reports pertaining to current team members and provides top 10 lists of all the major core lifts and field tests, or they can select a report that provides a historical perspective by producing top 10 lists of the best performances in those tests in the history of the school.

The next level of technology that has improved the administration of the BFS program and eliminated paperwork is the BFS Set - Rep Log app. Just like our BFS Set - Rep Logbooks, coaches can use this to guide their athletes through the BFS program so they know exactly which lifts to do and how many sets and reps to perform. However, unlike the BFS Beat the Computer program, the weight lifted for each set is determined by the individual athlete based on past performance, so that the athlete takes more responsibility for his or her own program. Here are several of the specific features of the app:

  • Athletes can see predefined weekly schedules included with recommended lifts for all common sports.
    • Athletes can enter their lifting results on their phone or tablet and immediately see how many records they've broken and their trends.
    • Athletes can easily scroll back and see what they did for any lift any week in the past.
  • Coaches can customize weekly schedules using any lift on any day and add any lifts.
  • Coaches can see all teams and athletes at a glance, including scores, records broken, and conditioning trends for any one athlete or any team.

There is no restriction on the number of coaches who can supervise athletes. The only difference between versions is the number of athletes you can enroll in the program, although the upgraded version enables you to add more athletes. The program requires a connection to the Internet and an e-mail address for each administrator, coach, and athlete (e-mail addresses can be any valid e-mail address from your school, Gmail, Yahoo, your Internet provider, etc.). The program runs in any standard web browser on computers (PC and Mac), tablets, or smartphones. Additionally, you can access the program and your data from anywhere you have access to the Internet.

With the numerous responsibilities involved in coaching and the ever-increasing size of weight training classes, BFS wanted to find more efficient ways to motivate athletes, monitor their progress, and reduce paperwork without sacrificing quality coaching. Using computer-aided software such as Beat the Computer and the BFS Set - Rep Log app fulfills this goal.




Learn more about Bigger Faster Stronger, Third Edition.

More Excerpts From Bigger Faster Stronger 3rd Edition